Pope Francis Endorses Climate Science, Trashes Modernity

 

shutterstock_186370886As promised, the pope’s encyclical came out today, so I spent most of my morning reading and processing so I could say something useful about it. (Amusingly, I was recently pre-interviewed for an NPR panel on the topic, but they got spooked when they discovered that I’m a climate skeptic. Such disreputable views are obviously not suitable for NPR. So I had to wait and read the encyclical today, with the rest of the plebs.)

So here’s something you already knew: Pope Francis believes in climate change. Here’s something else you knew: he’s wary of free markets. Despite that, I found it a very enjoyable read. Neither climate change nor free markets were the central focus. It’s more of a meditation on the dehumanizing, technocratic tendencies of modernity. It occurred to me as I was reading that Pope Francis believes in climate change mainly for the same sorts of reasons that conservatives are prone to doom-and-gloom future projections: the progressive disregard for nature has advanced so far that it seems credible to him that the earth is on the brink of disaster.

So, that’s some interesting food for thought. I’ll pull out a few passages that I liked, and invite others to leave whatever reactions they want to share.

Lamenting the fact that the poor are regularly overlooked and underserved, Francis opines that,

 (49) This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric.

He goes on to lambast population control advocates (which was a great pleasure for some of us, who did not enjoy watching figures like Jeff Sachs get a platform at a Vatican-sponsored event):

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health.” Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.

In general, what Francis calls “human ecology” is a major point of emphasis. Multiple times he returns to theme of the hypocrisy of those who claim to champion the environment while ignoring the applications of natural law to human beings, who are even more precious.

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.

There is also, of course, some specific environmental advice that most conservatives will find distasteful. On the whole though, it seemed to me like a lot of trepidation leading up to a document in which conservatives can find quite a lot to admire.

There are 76 comments.

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  1. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Rachel Lu:Amusingly, I was recently pre-interviewed for an NPR panel on the topic, but they got spooked when they discovered that I’m a climate skeptic. Such disreputable views are obviously not suitable for NPR. So I had to wait and read the encyclical today, with the rest of the plebs.

    • #1
  2. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    So Rachel, what should we make of his absurd Twitter rantings today?

    http://ricochet.com/pope-francis-losing-his-mind-in-real-time-on-twitter/

    • #2
  3. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Haven’t read it yet, but through Fr. Z’s blog I found a link to 11 Things You Probably Won’t Hear about Pope Francis’ Encyclical:

    (1) Creation has a Creator, and is more than just “nature-plus-evolution”

    (2) Human ecology means recognizing and valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity

    (3) Jesus sanctifies human work

    (4) Look up from your phones and encounter each other

    (5) Save the baby humans

    (6) Helping the poor requires more than just handouts

    (7) Overpopulation is not the problem

    (8) True ecology requires true anthropology and respect for human dignity

    (9) Real change requires a change in culture, not just politics

    (10) The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions, and we need an honest and open debate

    (11) Stop with the cynicism, secularism and immorality

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    BThompson:So Rachel, what should we make of his absurd Twitter rantings today?

    http://ricochet.com/pope-francis-losing-his-mind-in-real-time-on-twitter/

    The Twitter account and the notion of Francis being a simple, kind shepherd just don’t jive well.  I still think he is wrapping Latin American socialist views in the cloth of God and passing it off as some sort of above the fray morality that will only end up hurting more people than it will truly help.

    • #4
  5. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    BThompson:So Rachel, what should we make of his absurd Twitter rantings today?

    http://ricochet.com/pope-francis-losing-his-mind-in-real-time-on-twitter/

    I don’t quite get why those remarks are so crazy. I mean, a term like “deified market” is somewhat tendentious, but basically he’s suggesting that it’s problematic to regard markets as ends in themselves. Markets are made for man, not man for markets. Why is that “absurd”?

    As I said, his chief concern is with the technocratic tendencies of modernity and their impacts on both the environment and human society. We could quibble about application, but I don’t see this as a lunatic argument.

    • #5
  6. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I heard some relevant things today.

    1) I was listening to Powerline* where the guys talk about the technical difficulties (putting it mildly) in the “science” the encyclical accepts as accurate. It’s not. For example, there’s no increase in “severe weather events” and there’s actually no average temperature increase in the past 16-18 years, despite the increase in atmospheric CO2. That’s just a sample.

    I was hoping the document would skirt the “scientific” claims and focus on the moral/ethical issues of “human ecology,” where the Church’s position is solid, and unmarred by contemporary fads. I count it a failure that it doesn’t.

    2) I heard part of Larry Arnn’s eloquent commencement address on Dennis Prager’s show, wherein he quotes Churchill about machines being made for men, and not the other way around. This was in reference to our discrediting a “liberal arts” education as not preparing students to become a cog in the economic engine. Instead, Hillsdale prepares students to live a good (holy) life. That should have been Pope Francis’s emphasis, imo.

    And, btw, the difference between Right and Left is that the Left believes people are basically pollution, and the Right believes people are the solution (responding by developing technologies to address whatever climate challenges we may face). The Church should never come near aligning with leftists, for that reason alone.

    *I believe Powerline was wrong about the source of the leak. Italian media, not Vatican insider.

    • #6
  7. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Rachel Lu:

    I don’t quite get why those remarks are so crazy. I mean, a term like “deified market” is somewhat tendentious, but basically he’s suggesting that it’s problematic to regard markets as ends in themselves. Markets are made for man, not man for markets. Why is that “absurd”?

    I believe some conservatives have deified the market, proposing it as a one-size-fits-all cure for every problem facing mankind and refusing to acknowledge that markets ever have any downsides or produce problematic results.  Thus they treat any criticisms of markets as akin to blasphemy.

    • #7
  8. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    I agree, Joseph. I don’t think the pope fully appreciates the nuances of the economic conservative positions, but the sort of people he’s talking about (say, Randian libertarians) do exist and I mostly agree with the criticism as applied to that group.

    • #8
  9. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    WC, I think the things you mention in (2) are definitely there. There’s also a lot of scientific stuff that’s maybe questionable, but it’s subsidiary to a larger argument about modernity. I’m not saying it’s my favorite encyclical ever, but don’t let liberals control the conversation by picking their favorite parts. All the things you wanted him to say, he said. Just also some other things about, you know, the evils of air conditioning.

    The Church has long been prone to a kind of Utopianism in these official documents. It’s not just Francis; the last two pontiffs were like that too. I’ve never quite figured out what to do with that stuff. A peaceful, just and sustainable global world order, great! But umm… are we supposed to believe that that pie-in-the-sky stuff is ever happening this side of eternity? I’m confused. Anyway, there’s a good measure of that in Laudato Si, but it’s an old puzzle really, nothing unique to this encyclical or this pope.

    • #9
  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Western Chauvinist: I was hoping the document would skirt the “scientific” claims and focus on the moral/ethical issues of “human ecology,” where the Church’s position is solid, and unmarred by contemporary fads. I count it a failure that it doesn’t.

    I think it’s often a problem for Francis that he wants to make specific, testable, claims about the material world.

    When your job is to persuade people of The Truth of that which is unseen, it’s really unhelpful to have your claims about the seen things be untrue. Catholics don’t have to believe this stuff, so it’s true that he could write “The sky is green. The Bee Gees are just as popular as they have ever been. Greek finances are looking pretty good right now” and not commit any technical faults, but if you think that being correctly Christian involves thinking deeply about Papal instruction in a respectful way, he makes it harder to be correctly Christian.

    • #10
  11. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Western Chauvinist: the difference between Right and Left is that the Left believes people are basically pollution, and the Right believes people are the solution (responding by developing technologies to address whatever climate challenges we may face).

    Francis says something quite similar in #60 (though he doesn’t label the positions “Right” and “Left”).  But this is clearly about the Left:

    At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited.

    And this describes the Right:

    At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.

    He criticises the Right for believing that markets and technology will solve all ecological problems by themselves, without need for ethical considerations.  I think he has a point.

    • #11
  12. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    For those interested I’ve just posted on the Member Feed about Climate Change & Capitalism.  It’s not about theology or climate science but rather on the actual data trends around greenhouse gas emissions and relationship with free, or semi-free, markets.

    • #12
  13. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    For instance, conservatives often point to the fact that we have much cleaner air and water and better pollution control in the U.S. than in Communist China or the former Soviet Union, and that the wealth generated by our market economy makes this possible.  I agree, but I think this account overlooks the fact that pollution was a real problem in the U.S. in the past and that the EPA and other laws passed by the government that restrict what private enterprise can do played a role in this as well.

    We can certainly criticise the EPA for pushing things too far (as government agencies tend to do) but some conservatives seem to suggest by their rhetoric that if we simply abolished the EPA, struck all environmental protection laws from the books, and let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc.  Perhaps, but color me skeptical.

    • #13
  14. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    James Of England: The Bee Gees are just as popular as they have ever been.

    James, criticize the pope if you must, but if you dare question the genius of the Bee Gees again I shall never forgive you!

    • #14
  15. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Continued: Internet difficulties meant that I thought that this was all one comment. D’oh.
    I agree that a document on the theology of climate change might be a helpful, positive thing, even if it was of a leftist bent. Heck, one that said “even if we don’t know the degree of warming that will follow, we should take radical measures, with the EU arriving at 36.5% renewable energy by 2030 etc.” seems like it’d be sad to me, but hard to rebut theologically. I think that his choice of language of “revolution”, for instance, is deeply regrettable in light of Latin American history and Romans 13, but I can’t claim that there’s no degree of subjectivity in that.  Having read Evangelii Gaudium, though, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that humility would be much on display, so I was happily surprised by the fig leaf in #188, rather than being disappointed by the endless hubris.

    • #15
  16. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    BThompson:So Rachel, what should we make of his absurd Twitter rantings today?

    http://ricochet.com/pope-francis-losing-his-mind-in-real-time-on-twitter/

    I wonder if you are taking them too seriously, those are written by aides after all. No doubt they express the Pontiff’s general sentiments but only that I would say.

    • #16
  17. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    And at the same time, the “global technocratic paradigm” Francis decries is very relevant to the problems of big government, as conservatives should readily appreciate. Extending that argument outwards is far more helpful than defensively going on about the virtues of markets.

    • #17
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Joseph Stanko:

    Western Chauvinist: the difference between Right and Left is that the Left believes people are basically pollution, and the Right believes people are the solution (responding by developing technologies to address whatever climate challenges we may face).

    Francis says something quite similar in #60 (though he doesn’t label the positions “Right” and “Left”). But this is clearly about the Left:

    At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited.

    And this describes the Right:

    At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.

    He criticises the Right for believing that markets and technology will solve all ecological problems by themselves, without need for ethical considerations. I think he has a point.

    I think it’s true that the fringe left and the fringe right are both wrong on the issue. It may be that they are correct on the substance of global warming; perhaps it really is an emergency that should be responded to with massive closure and human death, or perhaps, and more likely in my view, it will be resolved in a relatively painless manner. Nonetheless, Francis’ view that the hermeneutics are flawed seems sound.

    One of the more frustrating defenses of Francis (on Ricochet) and Carter/ Obama (elsewhere), is that they’re not left wing because they’re not Communists. I believe that this is an even weaker claim, since those who object to all progress and demand a radically smaller population are outnumbered by Communists. If you’re intending to say “the Pope says these true things, and they’re somewhat valuable things to be said”, then I agree with you on this. If you mean something analogous to “Stalin condemned Shliapnikov’s leftism, so it’s wrong to call Stalin a radical”, then I disagree.

    • #18
  19. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Joseph Stanko:

    I believe some conservatives have deified the market, proposing it as a one-size-fits-all cure for every problem facing mankind and refusing to acknowledge that markets ever have any downsides or produce problematic results. Thus they treat any criticisms of markets as akin to blasphemy.

    I think part of the reason some of us get so prickly at the criticisms of the market is not that we all deify the market, but that criticism of the free market is so popular in many circles and is used to justify greater government control and intrusion that often does not solve the problems people were complaining about in the first place.

    It’s like complaints about white-on-black racism.  Does that still exist in America?  Sure.  But is it really the reason African Americans still make up a disproportionate amount of those living in poverty?  I don’t think so.  Is racism such a prevalent problem that it has to be brought up again and again in the media?  I don’t think so.    Will harping on it and the solutions the government proposes really help solve the problems of African Americans?  I don’t think so.

    If he’s criticizing modern peoples’ worship of material goods, I’m with him.  But in aiming for that he often seems to strike at free markets.  Just because free markets produce that prosperity that then leads to worship of material goods does not mean that free market is bad.

    • #19
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Joseph Stanko:

    James Of England: The Bee Gees are just as popular as they have ever been.

    James, criticize the pope if you must, but if you dare question the genius of the Bee Gees again I shall never forgive you!

    I believe that we live in a fallen world in which the race goes not to the swift, the battle to the strong, nor the recent number one hits on the Pop Charts to the Beegees. Some of those, obviously, do go to the Swift, but not races, because she’s not very fast.

    • #20
  21. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    And I do believe that there should be some regulation of the market.  But I really don’t think that the problem today is that markets aren’t regulated enough, though the Pope’s words seems like good ammunition for those arguing that.

    • #21
  22. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Knotwise the Poet:

    Joseph Stanko:

    I believe some conservatives have deified the market, proposing it as a one-size-fits-all cure for every problem facing mankind and refusing to acknowledge that markets ever have any downsides or produce problematic results. Thus they treat any criticisms of markets as akin to blasphemy.

    I think part of the reason some of us get so prickly at the criticisms of the market is not that we all deify the market, but that criticism of the free market is so popular in many circles and is used to justify greater government control and intrusion that often does not solve the problems people were complaining about in the first place.

    It’s like complaints about white-on-black racism. Does that still exist in America? Sure. But is it really the reason African Americans make up a disproportionate amount of those living in poverty? I don’t think so. Is racism such a prevalent problem that it has to be brought up again and again in the media? I don’t think so. Will harping on it and the solutions the government proposes really help solve the problems of African Americans? I don’t think so.

    Now, if he’s criticizing modern peoples’ worship of material goods, I’m with him. But in aiming for that he often seems to strike at free markets. Just because free markets produce that prosperity that then leads to worship of material goods does not mean that free market is bad.

    I think it’s more that it’s a straw man issue.

    So far as I know, the Catholic Church doesn’t have a huge problem with Randians. More or less everyone in the Church already knows that they’re wrong, and does fine without Papal explanation of this fact. The problem with condemning wreckers and saboteurs isn’t so much that there are no wreckers or saboteurs, but that the actual victims of anti-wrecking laws are so rarely so narrow a class.

    When Donald Todd and others suggest that if people considering conversion to Catholicism find Francis off putting, they must have a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism, they show why this sort of talk is a problem. I don’t think that Paul Ryan deifies the market, for instance, but it is always tempting to ascribe his support for the free market to his being heretical, and the Pope regularly encourages this.

    When Fr. Barron suggests that the transgendered are gnostics because they believe that they’re imposing their will to change their sex, despite the fact that almost no transgendered people believe that that is what they are doing and Jenner, his specific example, explicitly denies the heresy Barron ascribes to him, he raises the status of the error engaged to a clearer rejection of church teachings. If you already feel antipathy toward Jenner, this gives license to that antipathy, affording a patina of scholarship.

    Francis’ encyclical similarly empowers pre-existing antipathies. Conservatives are rendered not merely wrong as a matter of political judgment, but as a moral matter. This reduces empathy and increases the odds of ugly outcomes.

    • #22
  23. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    James Of England: I believe that this is an even weaker claim, since those who object to all progress and demand a radically smaller population are outnumbered by Communists.

    He does characterize the view as “at one extreme.”  However I’d say the view that “overpopulation” is a chief cause of environmental problems is not a fringe view, but in fact quite common among even moderate Democrats.

    • #23
  24. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Knotwise the Poet: He does characterize the view as “at one extreme.”  However I’d say the view that “overpopulation” is a chief cause of environmental problems is not a fringe view, but in fact quite common among even moderate Democrats.

    I’ll be reading the encyclical, but this certainly jives with my previous thinking about Francis; he tends to write about markets as if John Galt were already running the show (or, not running the show, I suppose).

    Look, I get it: we all have our favorite enemies and its easy mistake our dislike for them with their actual danger. Francis really has it out for soulless capitalism (as he understands it) and doesn’t seem to realize that no one in power is actually advocating such a thing.

    • #24
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Joseph Stanko:For instance, conservatives often point to the fact that we have much cleaner air and water and better pollution control in the U.S. than in Communist [countries] and that the wealth generated by our market economy makes this possible. I agree, but I think this account overlooks the fact that pollution was a real problem in the U.S. in the past and that the EPA and other laws passed by the government that restrict what private enterprise can do played a role in this as well.

    We can certainly criticise the EPA for pushing things too far… but some conservatives seem to suggest by their rhetoric that if we simply abolished the EPA, struck all environmental protection laws from the books, and let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc. …

    Eh, I kind of have mixed feelings on this. I think it’s undeniable that people of affluence don’t care to live in effluence. That they’re (we’re) more apt to concern themselves with the environment when they don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, or being hauled off by the secret police for believing the “wrong” things.

    And then there’s the sticky problem of all such “movements” (environmentalism, feminism, etc.) becoming extremist once they’ve basically achieved their goals. That’s a darned good reason not to institutionalize control over such matters in government.

    • #25
  26. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Joseph Stanko: He criticises the Right for believing that markets and technology will solve all ecological problems by themselves, without need for ethical considerations.

    I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone this side of sanity who believes that markets can exist absent ethical considerations. Heck, not only are Randians super-judgmental, they think their judgments about morality are objectively correct; that’s why they call themselves Objectivists.

    Now, Objectivist morality is, obviously, very different than Christian morality but they’re hardly mutually exclusive.

    • #26
  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Joseph Stanko:

    James Of England: I believe that this is an even weaker claim, since those who object to all progress and demand a radically smaller population are outnumbered by Communists.

    He does characterize the view as “at one extreme.” However I’d say the view that “overpopulation” is a chief cause of environmental problems is not a fringe view, but in fact quite common among even moderate Democrats.

    There are many Democrats who feel like overpopulation is a major cause. Heck, think that a growing population is a major cause. Don’t you? Like, if we had 5 billion people, wouldn’t the earth be a little less polluted?

    I don’t know many Democrats who feel like it should be blamed instead of consumerism and use it as a justification for consumerism. Heck, for that matter, I don’t think I know of anyone who takes that position. It’s possible that that portion of #50 is a genuine straw man as it applies to the West (I’ve just come back from a two week conference on EU environmental law in Italy, and I don’t think that that’s a part of the political spectrum there, either). It certainly wasn’t a part of the Erlich/ Mao schtick.

    Similarly, I don’t know of any Democrats who “view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat”. If you’re that misanthropic, you almost certainly vote third party. I think that Francis would probably vote third party in the US. Democrats generally don’t say things like “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” I’d draw a spectrum of “people who view humanity as purely negative-other people-Francis-other people-Democrats-most Independents-Republicans.”

    Heck, even in Italy, I don’t think you’ll find the eco-extremists, the Sinistra Ecologia Libertà, go that far. The leftmost 3.4% of Italy aren’t Francis’ extremists, any more than the Tea Partiers who get elected to Federal or state-wide office in the US are extremists on the other side.

    • #27
  28. Koolee Inactive
    Koolee
    @Koolie

    Joseph Stanko:but some conservatives seem to suggest by their rhetoric that if we simply abolished the EPA, struck all environmental protection laws from the books, and let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc. Perhaps, but color me skeptical.

    I don’t know which conservatives you are talking about but where do you pick up such misinformation as “let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc “?

    Have you ever heard of the concept of externalities in economics? This is a universally accepted concept and phenomenon accepted by all economists, left, right, free markets or big govt types. Economists may differ in terms of the best approach to deal with the negative externalities but nobody accepts the ridiculous hyperbole you throw out in the quotes above.

    The old Pigouvian recommendation of government knowing what’s best has been shown not always correct by Ronald Coase, Nobel Laureate. There are many different approaches.

    • #28
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Koolie:

    Joseph Stanko:but some conservatives seem to suggest by their rhetoric that if we simply abolished the EPA, struck all environmental protection laws from the books, and let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc. Perhaps, but color me skeptical.

    I don’t know which conservatives you are talking about but where do you pick up such misinformation as “let private companies maximize their profits without any restraints this would also magically yield clean air, pure water, etc “?

    Have you ever heard of the concept of externalities in economics? This is a universally accepted concept and phenomenon accepted by all economists, left, right, free markets or big govt types. Economists may differ in terms of the best approach to deal with the negative externalities but nobody accepts the ridiculous hyperbole you throw out in the quotes above.

    The old Pigouvian recommendation of government knowing what’s best has been shown not always correct by Ronald Coase, Nobel Laureate. There are many different approaches.

    In Joseph’s defense, there are conservatives who are not facile with Coase and pals. There are even some on Ricochet who feel uncomfortable with side payments and such.

    • #29
  30. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Knotwise the Poet:

    Joseph Stanko:

    I believe some conservatives have deified the market, proposing it as a one-size-fits-all cure for every problem facing mankind and refusing to acknowledge that markets ever have any downsides or produce problematic results. Thus they treat any criticisms of markets as akin to blasphemy.

    I think part of the reason some of us get so prickly at the criticisms of the market is not that we all deify the market, but that criticism of the free market is so popular in many circles and is used to justify greater government control and intrusion that often does not solve the problems people were complaining about in the first place.

    It’s like complaints about white-on-black racism. Does that still exist in America? Sure. But is it really the reason African Americans still make up a disproportionate amount of those living in poverty? I don’t think so. Is racism such a prevalent problem that it has to be brought up again and again in the media? I don’t think so. Will harping on it and the solutions the government proposes really help solve the problems of African Americans? I don’t think so.

    I’ll be reading the encyclical, but this certainly jives with my previous thinking about Francis; he tends to write about markets as if John Galt were already running the show (or, not running the show, I suppose).

    Look, I get it: we all have our favorite enemies and its easy mistake our dislike for them with their actual danger. Francis really has it out for soulless capitalism (as he understands it) and doesn’t seem to realize that no one in power is actually advocating such a thing.

    But people do think this way, just not as many as he supposes. And people on our side are also often guilty of being too knee-jerk and not nuanced enough in responding to his points.

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